Read this: Inside the UAE’s Secret Hacking Team of American Mercenaries.

[Lori Stroud] had joined Project Raven, a clandestine team that included more than a dozen former U.S. intelligence operatives recruited to help the United Arab Emirates engage in surveillance of other governments, militants and human rights activists critical of the monarchy.

Reuters

This one’s a long read detailing how the United Arab Emirates launched a cyber intelligence team made up of American contractors. It’s a fascinating read.

Matthew Whitaker, former big dick toilet salesman and current acting attorney general, says the Mueller investigation is nearing its finish.

Whitaker did a press conference today over the US’ indictments of China’s Huawei and CFO Meng Wanzhou. During the course of the press conference, he was asked about the Mueller investigation and said, according to the Washington Post, “I have been fully briefed on the investigation and I look forward to Director Mueller delivering the final report. I am comfortable that the decisions that were made are going to be reviewed. . . . Right now, you know, the investigation is, I think, close to being completed.”

Donald Trump, Twitter, 1-23-2019
Yes, these are the tweets of a rational mind.

It’s tempting to make fun of this garbage, but you have to remember that there’s only one thing this guy is any kind of good at, and it’s branding. When he does it, it looks like this, and it often works. So watch out for this crap.

So, a few things to know, here.

  1. Is the wall under construction? Short answer: No, not really. Longer answer: He got some funding last year for some repairs to existing walls/fences, and to extend some of the existing fence, so, sorta? (FactCheck.org, NBC News, NPR.)
  2. Crime rates are down significantly already, and have been falling steadily and dramatically for a couple of decades now. (Pew Research, Vox, Brennan Center.)
  3. Specifically at the southern border, crime has been falling steadily over the last few years. (CBP.gov, FactCheck.org, Brookings Institution)

Hey, so remember how last week BuzzFeed News published a big bombshell article, and then the spokesperson for the Mueller investigation was all, “That’s not completely accurate,” and the rest of the media, all the rightwingers, and half of the left spent the week dunking on BuzzFeed?

BuzzFeed’s got some receipts and they’re publishing.

Rudy Giuliani claims the Moscow tower was barely more than a notion. “There were no drafts. Nothing in the file.” Documents obtained by BuzzFeed News tell a different story.

BuzzFeed

Resources:

Heads up, y’all. McConnell’s finally allowing a vote on bills to reopen the government.

Via @SenateCloakroom: “The Senate has proceeded to H.R.268, Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2019. Votes Scheduled: At 2:30 pm on Thursday, January 24th, the Senate will proceed to 2 votes on the following in relation to H.R.268, Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2019: 1. Motion to invoke cloture on Amendment #5 | 2. Motion to invoke cloture on Amendment #6.”

One of the votes is for Trump’s “compromise” (which is not actually a compromise but a bunch of empty “promises” he will promptly backslide on) and one is for one of the House bills for govt. funding, but no funding for the wall. (Still sorting out which is which.)

Read this Twitter thread for instructions. TL;DR? Call your GOP senators (if you have them), particularly if your senator is Tillis, Gardner, Murkowski, Collins or Capito, and tell them to vote YES on the House bill and NO on the Trump compromise bill.

Americans toss the idea of impeaching a president around pretty casually in conversation. We demand it, we talk about it like it’s a one-and-done kind of thing.

It is not. It really, really isn’t.

You can read about how federal impeachment works on Wikipedia, but very basically, the House Judiciary Committee first investigates if a president has committed impeachable offenses of some sort. “Impeachable offenses” are defined pretty vaguely in the Constitution: “Treason, Bribery, or other High Crimes and Misdemeanors.”

So first the House Judiciary investigates. Investigation can take quite awhile – months, easily. If they find something they think is an “impeachable offense,” usually some kind of crime, the Judiciary will issue articles of impeachment with specific allegations. The articles of impeachment are sent on to the full House of Representatives.

The House debates the various allegations and votes on the articles of impeachment. A simple majority vote is needed to pass the articles. After that, folks from the House of Representatives present the case to the Senate.

The Senate holds a trial. The House presents the prosecution case, and the president would have his lawyers defend him. After hearing the case, the Senate deliberates among themselves, and they need a two-thirds super majority to convict the president.

Once the president is convicted, he’s out. This is a process that can take months. Clinton’s impeachment took just over a year, and I don’t think that’s counting whatever investigations the House Judiciary did at the time.

Impeaching a president is a lengthy, cumbersome, drama-filled process, and one that is not generally undertaken lightly by Congress.

Another thing to consider: The United States has never actually impeached and convicted a president before. We’ve never kicked a president out of office.

We’ve impeached two presidents in the House, Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton, but they were both acquitted in the Senate. We started to impeach Richard Nixon, but he resigned before we really got going.

We’ve had 45 presidents over the course of 242 years. Some of them were pretty frickin’ awful. A few of them were monsters. And we’ve never kicked a single one out of office by impeachment.

I’m pointing this out to you because I want you to understand that impeaching a president and removing them from office has a momentous weight of history bearing down on it. This is the kind of action that stamps its mark on history for generations.

This is, as Joe Biden might say, a big fuckin’ deal.

Now, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t do it. I’m not saying Trump doesn’t deserve it. (If anyone does, I’m pretty sure it’s him.) I’m just saying, this is not a thing you just up and do.

So if you’re one of the many, many people or news pundits out there who’s all “He should be impeached, why aren’t we impeaching him, we should do it tomorrow, yaddayaddayadda,” hey, take a breath. This isn’t going out for ice cream, man.

It’s probably gonna happen. We’ll probably at least try to impeach Trump. But it’s going to take a minute. Nobody changes the arc of history overnight.

Featured photo: US Capitol Building, by Martin Falbisoner. CC BY-SA 3.0. Source and licensing.